French Beer In Wine Country #BrewedAwakening
Having just spent a week immersed in the wine culture of Southern France, including Luberon, Ventoux, Costières de Nîmes, Cairannes, Lirac and Tavel, there wasn’t much time for beer.
They kept us on a pretty tight schedule: up early, a quick breakfast, then visiting wineries from morning until night, with lunch and dinner with winemakers.
I did grab a tasty Hofbrau Helles lager on tap at the Munich airport in transit, and an occasional cold “Eurolager” from the hotel bars, but, other than that, I only had a chance to try two small brewery beers.
It was interesting to see that some of the wineries we connected with were interested in the growing beer scene.
I tried their Altitude 1912 Le Sommet, which is described on some beer sites as an American style Blonde ale or Pale Ale, but in reality it was nothing like that, from a taste standpoint. It is very hazy, and has a spicy nose, more in line with a Belgian blonde or French style farmhouse ale. It is smooth and relatively low in bitterness.
It was actually poured for us by Henri-Claude Amadieu from the large, high quality producer Pierre Amadieu, from Gigondas.
The other small brewery beer I sampled was from Brasserie La Déjantée (Google tells me Déjantée means weirdo), from Pernes-les-Fontaines, in Vaucluse, just east of Avignon, south of Mount Ventoux.
Their La Cuvée Des 3 Barjes is listed as an American style IPA on untappd. Barjes seems to translate to crazy, or fool. To be honest, while I enjoyed this beer, I did not feel that it represented an American style IPA, even though it is 6.5% alcohol, so perhaps it is a mistake in the translation. It does have more hop bitterness than a typical French or Belgian style pale ale, but this beer was more of an amber colour and did not have the hop aroma or flavour of an IPA. It was malty, and very yeast driven, quite spicy.
Just trying these two beers, then following up with research on the breweries, showed me that France is becoming increasingly active in the modern beer scene. As we always say in the industry, it takes a lot of beer to make great wine.